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Transit group lists its top 10 best and worst events of 2011

John Paul purchases a Metrocard at the Ditmars station on the N-Q line. In a list released by the Straphangers Campaign, the decision to not increase fares this year after three years of hikes was declared the best event of 2011. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The Straphangers Campaign characterized the year 2011 as “the best of times and the worst of times” as far as events affecting New York City subways and buses were concerned.

“Probably the biggest event of the year — Gov. Cuomo’s nominating Joseph Lhota as MTA chairman to replace former Chairman Jay Walder — ended up on neither the best nor worst list,” said Straphanger attorney Gene Russianoff for the transit advocacy agency. “Instead, it fell into the ‘too early to tell’ category.”

The group named the following as the 10 best city transit events of 2011:

1. No subway, bus or commuter fare hike after three years in a row of increases.

2. Faster bus service arrived on the M34 Select bus featuring pre-board payment.

3. Some service cuts from 2010 were restored in 2011.

4. The MTA launched its Weekender website.

5. Riders can now track the location of some bus routes by cell phone.

6. In the shadow of the World Trade Center, the southbound Cortland Street station on the R line reopens.

7. The MTA adopted the 511 number for one-stop telephone help.

8. The $1 fee on the purchase of MetroCards was postponed.

9. A pilot project brought cell phone service to six underground subway stations.

10. More countdown clocks appeared in subways.

The top 10 worst in 2011:

1. The state slashed a net $100 million from dedicated transit operating funds.

2. The state Legislature voted exceptions to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax at an unknown cost to its riders.

3. MTA proposed taking on $7 billion of debt for capital projects (will it mean a fare hikes to pay it back?)

4. Aged trains on the C line will now stay in service until at least 2017.

5. The MTA went over budget and was behind schedule on the 2nd Avenue Subway and East Side Access, according to federal officials.

6. Breakdowns increased and ridership decreased on buses.

7. Hurricane Irene could have been worse, but many New Yorkers experienced what the loss of transit service meant to the City that Never Sleeps.

8. Garbage cans disappeared from subway stations.

9. Passenger assaults on bus drivers and subway workers climbed.

10. A tax-free transit benefit may shrink by half next year.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

Posted 7:13 pm, December 14, 2011
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